Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dominican Chicken & Beans

Tried a couple of new recipes tonight and I'm posting them together since they are often served together. They are from the Dominican Republic. I found the recipes at The Fanciful Fig. They are very similar to the Ecuadorian Seco de Gallina chicken dish and menestra bean dish that I have made lots of times, but for some reason haven't posted yet. Probably because I don't have measurements for anything. I just know how to make them.
When my youngest daughter Sabrina saw the marinade, she asked, "Is that supposed to look appetizing???" That didn't seem like a good start, but the dish is good with tender chicken and flavorful beans. 
Dominican Chicken
Serves 6-8

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (3-4 lbs)
1/2 big yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2/3 can of tomato paste
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 T. lime juice
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 head garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
2 cubes chicken bouillon, crushed
2 T. canola oil
1 T. brown sugar
4 c. water

Remove skin and fat from the chicken pieces and rinse under cold water. Dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, green pepper, tomato paste, cilantro, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, bouillon and chicken pieces. Let marinate for 10 minutes or longer.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan with a lid, such as a dutch oven, and add the brown sugar. Let the sugar burn. Add the chicken pieces to the pan, reserving the marinade. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides.

Add 4 cups of water to the marinade in the bowl. Add the marinade liquid to the pot by large spoonfuls to keep the chicken from sticking to the bottom. When the chicken is cooked through, add the remaining marinade. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add more water to the pot if the chicken starts to stick during this time.

Serve over hot rice with a side of Dominican Beans.

Dominican Beans
Serves 6-8

2 cans of pinto beans and liquid, or 1 1/2 lb. dry pinto beans
2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and pressed in a garlic press
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/3 can tomato paste
1 cube chicken bouillon, crushed

If using dry beans, bring to a boil in a generous amount of water (3 times the amount of beans in the pot). Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until soft. Retain the bean liquid.

In a large saucepan heat the oil and brown the garlic. Add onion, green pepper and cilantro, and fry. Add tomato paste and chicken bouillon. Cook until well combined.

Add the beans to the mixture and add enough liquid to make it saucy. (If you are using canned beans, you may have to add water). Simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt before serving.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Desert Noises

Warm weather is coming back and I’m excited for all the fun things you can do outside, including outdoor concerts like Provo Rooftop Concert Series, which is a once a month FREE concert (first Friday of every month May through October) up on the top level of a parking structure at 100 West and 100 North in downtown Provo. Music starts at 7:30. May 2nd is the first concert of 2014 and there are 3 bands playing. I thought I’d introduce you to them, one at a time, so you can see if it’s the kind of music you’d like to listen to so you can go have fun too. They are lots of fun for the whole family so bring your blanket or chair and some snacks (or buy food from the delish restaurant row they set up in the alley next to the parking structure) and listen to some amazing music!

Desert Noises is one of the bands performing. They performed last May at the Rooftop Concert, where I saw them and you can see that night's performance of 27 Ways in the first video below. They are 4 young guys from Provo, who are currently out doing a US tour to promote their new album “27 Ways”. The oldest member is Kyle Henderson, 24. The other three members are Tyler Osmond (Donny Osmond’s nephew), Pat Boyer and Brennan Allen. Together they make a unique sound with awesome music. According to their bio, “Desert Noises makes music for shouting into canyons, jumping into rivers, and getting married to the wide-open road.” I really like their sound and no two songs sound the same, like some bands, so make sure to listen to more than one. If you are like me, you'll listen to all of them...over and over.


Saturday, April 5, 2014


I have been craving empanadas for a couple of months. Different Latin American countries have different versions of empanadas.  I have some friends who make THE best empanadas from Argentina. I'm pretty sure theirs will always be my favorite. But I decided to make some myself, unsure if we'd like them at all. I found this recipe online at Laylita's Recipes. I've made a few of her recipes before and they all turned out great. I will definitely be making these again, maybe to share next time.

The dough is soft and rolls out easily without being sticky. I made the picadillo recipe the same as Laylita's except I added garlic and used black olives instead of green because that's what we like. And I didn't layer the ingredients. I chopped the eggs and mixed it and the olives in with the ground beef. I made those changes to the recipe I am sharing below, but you can check hers out to see another way to do it. This made 23 small empanadas for me.

3 c. flour
1 egg yolk
½ c. butter
¾ - 1 c. warm milk
½ t. salt
Beef picadillo filling:
1 lb. ground beef
1 white onion, diced, about 1 c.
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. butter
2 T. smoked paprika
2 T. chili powder
1 T. finely chopped fresh oregano
½ T. ground cumin
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1-2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
¼ c. sliced olives
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, white and yolk separated and lightly whisked

Mix the flour and salt in a food processor, pulse until well combined. Add the butter, blend well. Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts, pulse until small dough clumps start to form.

Make a couple of balls, flatten into disks and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round cookie cutters or a small bowl). Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

Beef picadillo filling and empanada assembly:
Combine the ground beef, paprika, red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to use.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the onions, garlic and salt, cook until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the meat mixture to the onions and cook on medium heat until the meat is done, stir frequently. Let the meat mixture or picadillo cool down, and then mix in the chopped green onions, chopped oregano, olives and egg.

To assemble the empanadas add a spoonful of the meat mixture on the center of each empanada disc, add a slice of egg and sliced olive. Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, you can also use water but the egg white is a good natural “glue” that helps seal the empanada.

Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers, as a final step use a fork to press down and finish sealing the empanadas.
Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when they bake. Let the empanadas rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 400° and bake for about 25 minutes.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Easy Berry Buttermilk Cake

My sweet tooth was urging me to make dessert today so I looked through my recipes for something new I could make with ingredients I had on hand and that was low-fat-ish. I came across the recipe for Easy Blueberry Buttermilk Cake from Skinny Taste. I didn't have many blueberries left, but I had a lot of raspberries so I decided to try it with raspberries. I added a light dash of almond extract too. It is moist and sweet and I couldn't tell it was low-fat.

Easy Berry Buttermilk Cake

2 3/4 c. cake flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. sugar
4 T. softened unsalted butter
3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. low fat buttermilk
2 c. blueberries
1 large egg, beaten
2 large egg whites
2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, in a medium bowl, beat sugar and butter for about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg whites one at a time and beat until combined. Add buttermilk, vanilla and applesauce until incorporated.

Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in blueberries.

Place the batter into the prepared cake pan; bake cake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30-32 minutes. Serve room temperature.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stuffed Cheese Buns

The awesome photos of these rolls at Yammie's Noshery had me craving them so I made them even though I didn't have enough cheese for the top of them or any fresh herbs. Maybe I'll try that next time. I had it while still warm and the cheese was stringy. Mmmmmm! You can probably tell I used whole wheat flour.
Stuffed Cheese Buns
1 c. warm water (probably 105º - 115º)
2 T. yeast
2 T. sugar
2 t. garlic powder
1/4 c. melted butter
1/4 c. olive oil
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. salt
8 oz. cheese or more 
           Melted butter
           Fresh herbs, optional
           Additional cheese
Mix together the yeast and water and let it sit for a couple minutes. Add the sugar, garlic powder, melted butter, and oil. Add the flour a little and a time, mixing in your stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the salt. Knead for 10 minutes, in the stand mixer or by hand. 
Let the dough rise in the bowl, covered with a wet cloth for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375º.  
Divide the dough into about 20 pieces. Put about a 3/4 inch chunk of cheese in each one and make sure you pinch all the edges back up tightly. Put the pinched side down on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the buns with more shredded cheese and some parmesan cheese. Bake  for about 11-15 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Brush with the melted butter and serve warm.